Any rational citizen of the United States has to realize that the War on Drugs is a total and abject failure. The main thing it has to show for itself is an overburdened prison system tied with a consistently large market for illegal drugs. Not only is the prison system stuffed to the gills with people there often for relatively minor offenses, but even a short period in prison can make it extremely difficult for the person to become gainfully employed, often forcing them back into the drug underculture.
I often describe myself as being at the liberal end of the libertarian spectrum, and I have a simple proposal which is in line with my "hands off" worldview.
Why not get the government out of the drug control business? Almost totally.
By "almost totally," I mean that we free up legal adults to use whatever drugs they want. Until, that is, they get in trouble. This is how we treat alcohol and alcohol abuse, after all, and what's wrong with that?
Tied to this would be hands off employers and landlords to choose whether to hire or provide housing for drug users, freeing them to require passing drug tests to get work or housing. Only if they wish to do so of course. Perhaps a business might prefer a marijuana user if their business is selling paraphernalia. A car dealership might think cocaine users make better car salesmen.
Likewise, a landlord might accept various kinds of drug users and, depending on the market, might charge a higher rate to give users a privilege to live in their business investment.
So, is hands off the right approach?
Now, will this get rid of drug dealers entirely? No, because there will be those who can't legally get drugs: those who have been convicted of drug abuse and, of course, minors. So, the drug problem will not totally go away, but we could certainly free up the money and resources prosecuting the drug war for more productive uses.
I'm in favour of legalisation of drugs, however I would want to see it go hand in hand with better drugs education. Maybe drugs education classes in school rather like sex education classes. The reason I say this is because I would be concerned about naive young adults thinking, "I'll just give a little bit of heroin a try, just to see what's it like." Some drugs are so addictive that you could see people who just wanted to experience it once getting caught up in a habit. Perhaps we shouldn't hand-hold about this but I would like to see lots more information on how bad these drugs can be. Possibly if they were legalised these types of info-mercials would become more prevalent.
Indeed. With drugs like heroin they should be merely decriminalized and not made legal. This is the policy in nordic countries. Those found doing heroin are given the choice of drug treatment or pretty strict parole in some countries and in others there is little oversight but instead treatment is openly offered and needle clinics abound (some provinces in Canada). Many addicted to heroin desperately need help and are often unable to admit it or don't believe that they can be saved (even though in the end many can).
What I don't particularily care for is the idea of people only doing lines of cocaine on busses or tables in restaurants which is where unseens idea of proprietary discretion being useful if not very important.
I hope I made clear that drugs would have to continue to be illegal for minors and people who've shown a history of letting drugs get them into trouble.
I also think that EVERYBODY knows that drugs like heroin and meth are addictive and can ruin lives. What could "drug education" add to those understandings?
So taking the adult age as 18 we would attempt to protect a 17 year old by making drugs illegal for them but on their 18th birthday they are suddenly considered to have enough world knowledge and wisdom that of course they understand the dangers of drugs? That's an optimistic viewpoint which is not wholly consistent with your general outlook on matters I have seen you comment on before.
In the 70s in the UK we had a real problem with drink-driving. Culturally there was a very casual view towards it and many people would drink three or four pints at least and then drive home. As my generation grew up there was a huge push to raise awareness of the dangers, including hammering home the point about the damage you could do to someone else's life. It was a huge campaign by the government and it worked. Amongst my generation drink-driving is viewed as a complete no-no. This sort of "education" can work.
Not "suddenly considered..." There should already have been ongoing education and frank dialogue about the dangers.
There have been significant changes here too related to drinking and driving. When I was 15-16 (early 80s) my town had a drive-thru liquor store. They didn't ID anybody. I would drive up to the window, order 1 bottled beer, they would open it and hand it to me and I would drive away; drink it while riding around. In 20-30 minutes I would go back and get another beer. I remember friends and acquaintances who died because they "fell asleep at the wheel" and hit a tree on their way home late at night. It's just how things were; business as usual. That doesn't fly anymore. They enforce open-container laws, they punish businesses and bartenders that sell to underage or drunk people, they lowered the blood-alcohol limit to .08%, random DWI traffic checkpoints, public service announcements, etc. It has been a multifaceted, decades long campaign, and while there are still violators, they are the exception rather than the norm.
Maybe there should be different legal ages for different substances. E.g. cigarettes at 18, alcohol at 21, heroin at 25?
How would you feel though about people doing lines of cocaine on their tables at restaurants?
I don't think I would really feel anything about it except for "you idiots". Unless you mean that the sound/sight of it is anti-social. It might be a bit messy but I don't think it's particularly loud or offensive to other people.
What would bother you about it?
Well...apart from it being difficult to enjoy a meal while you listen to coke heads snort and sniffle powder up their nose ... it's more a case of awaiting the inevitable obnoxious behaviour that comes along with it. Few people (in my experience) can handle coke without become at best a fumbling buffoon and at worst and aggressive asshole. So...I would certainly take a pass at restaurants that allowed patrons to scratch out lines on the table and gargle it up their noses and I would get off a subway car and wait for the next one if it became legal and common place to snort coke there (which I ... in fact have done a couple times in New York and London where it isn't legal anyways).
I have no problem with coke going around at parties where you'd expect it and I grudgingly tolerate it at clubs and discos where it's mostly harmless...I would simply find it weary and tiring having to avoid people and be careful around people even more in public who are coked up and the not so small minority finding trouble. Especially in Canada where bashing bottles over peoples heads and flying chairs are not uncommon.
It's a point... of course, as a non-drinker I feel much the same about people who drink loads of alcohol in restaurants and become obnoxious.
If it were my restaurant I would have a strict policy against it, just like smoking.
as well there would be bars that you can order a line of coke and they bring it out with a plastic business card a rolled $100 bill and on a mirror.
Obviously, if I approve of employers and landlords having drug policies, other businesses should be able to have them as well.